Crusader Days and Knights

Glastonbury Council and an intriguing discovery.
In the beginning, part 2: Councils and Miracles

“ No one knew him but to love him,
No one named him but to praise.”

“ ‘Tis only noble to be good;
Kind hearts are more than coronets,
And simple faith than Norman blood.”

A warm spring haze fills the small village of Glastonbury. Her location known to none of her lost residents in this New World. It has been dry, very dry in fact. It hasn’t rained in weeks and one third of her people have become affected by the diarrhea. The odd village bustles with activity. It seems none of her villagers can escape the labors brought about by divine or perhaps devilish intervention.

Knights and Knight Errands are forced to survive by plowing and driving their beasts of war into beasts of burden.

Friars, priests, and monks have been sowing seeds frantically to catch up to what all have conceded to be “spring”. Bakers have been managing the fires constantly and the young have been helping in the kitchens to prepare and preserve food for winter in these lands could be harsh and might come sooner than anticipated.

All are preparing for a hard life in a strange and foreign land. All doing so on lowered rations. The quiet in the town brought on not by peace but by exhaustion tinged with fear and an underlying dread of what strange terrors might be lurking out there…
We turn now to the doors of an abbey. And to a meeting inside its walls. A meeting of Glastonbury’s best thinkers and doers. In attendance we find Robert Devaroux, Abbot William of St. Vigor, Charles de Maubrey, Addy Raimbencourt and his assistant Flavian, the young Fin McCloud, and others.

The Council at the Abbey

It is widely agreed now from pontiff to scholar to men of the range that it is mid May. It is noted that several of the villages best and brightest were not present at this meeting and were in fact in field directing some of the projects that required direct supervision. Others of less constitutional prowess were in recovery due to the illness which had beset itself upon Glastonbury.
We join the meeting underway as Robert is summarizing the great efforts made to plow and sow, preserve and sew, construct and dig, indeed all the laborious as everyone was put to task.

Scouts are taxed with exploring and hunting, gathering, in shifts from pre-dawn till dusk and called in from the wilds in fear of being lost to the Monsters of this ….place

Every hand has been calloused, blistered, or numbed…quite simply worked to the bone. All are exhausted from the collective efforts. Nobility might now come to be defined as, having or showing fine personal qualities or high moral principles and ideals, rather than belonging to a hereditary class of aristocracy.

There is a water contingency. It hasn’t rained in weeks. The water table is low here on the plains. And when wells are dug and water is drawn up it is murky and silty. It is difficult to get water from the river all the way to the farms and dangerous to do so because of what may lurk in hiding between the village and the river.

Peter Bakerson, Glastonbury’s mayor, is convinced that rain will come. He has faith that the Lord God will provide for them all if they are all faithful and respectful of God’s laws.
Food stores are running low. Every man woman and child have been put on low rations.

The knights and monks have been tasked with doling out fair rations to every villager.
The scouts have found little in the way of small game, Flavian surmises that it is possibly due to the dragon consuming all the small game in the area.

Scouts have yet to find a source for hard woods and little in the way of soft is available…though plenty of drift wood from the river indicates that there is definitely some to the North…but how far is not known…

The Smithy is idle. Not only supplies of combustibles are low, but ore, copper, and other heavy metals are nearly exhausted.

Bakery has been producing hard ration bread. The efforts have been great, reducing further the supplies of soft wood quickly.

Winter on the way – dung has worked for warming ovens and boiling water but the stench!!!
The moat project is put on hold. The labor has been redirected to baking of breads, sowing, hunting and gathering.

Baroness Alice St. George enters the council room and declares there is not enough material for new fall fashionable clothing. Though the counsel laughs, this could have long term problems for the village indeed, winter is coming…

Charles suggests that the people abandon Glastonbury and move where resources might be more easily retrieved but Lord Robert, Abbot William, and Peter Bakerson all protest against losing the resources provided by the village, the freshly plowed fields, and the partly completed Abbey.

Addy Raimbencourt and Flavian suggest putting efforts into Prospecting for resources.
The council decides to move on as an impasse between lords and scholars have become somewhat impassioned by this subject.

Next on the council agenda is to be discussed the fate of the captured aboriginal. Gideon and Adrian are of course officially praised by the Council and hailed as heroes.

During this harangue the captured primitive is brought in, in an unconscious state. He is still clad in heavy poorly tanned and assembled leather. No cloth whatsoever is upon his person. He is heavily muscled, with a heavy brow and strong Jaw. His stature is stout and broad. Truly a magnificently powerful creature this must be.

Bound firmly at the wrists with rope tethered to the ankles he comes round and immediately begins to struggle, its biceps and forearm muscles bulging in strained attempts to break free its bondage.

Its belongings and weapons are examined. An oddly furbished bone and sinew bow of very high poundage. A flimsy primitive curved blade is scoffed at, demonstrating that it is not much better than tin.

The suggestion is made to learn how to communicate with the man-like creature. Quickly agreed upon, the scholars set to it.

During the council meeting Fin is startled by Crazy Agnes the local “crazy cat lady”. Though she has been well respected in the past for her age, relative wisdom, and her knowledge of midwifery, many believe she might be a witch. She tells him and the council that he is destined for greatness and she nearly convinces the counsel of such premonitions.

Meanwhile…
Stefan visits Gideon and professes his love for the lady Roselyn

Adrien Dubois in dire condition after the battle with the aboriginals.

Luc with LeBlanc, Stefan, and several knights are tracking the aboriginal that made its escape. Luc finds tracks of a pack of very large “wolves”. It has become apparent that these primitive creatures are riding on the backs of some sort of wild large wolf like canine. The set off to track the great wolves. They are lead toward the river. And though it is difficult to stay in pursuit. Luc firmly believes these creatures to be intelligent as to have such acumen to throw its pursuers off their path.

The Tracks led the party toward a herd of beastly bovidious mammals. The cleverness of these creatures is confirmed by their deliberate plan to lead its pursuers directly into the herd. As Luc moved closer to the shaggy maned beasts. They became aggressive, posturing to charge at the young scout. Snorting, and lowering their curve horned massive heads was enough to force the party to give them wide berth and the group was forced to move around the mass of hulking unshorn beasts.

This lead to the loss of pursuit of the aboriginal creature and its pack of great wolves. The herd of “bison” left behind a wounded herd member. It had been wounded by the passing wolves. A welcomed feast for the village to be sure. The knights and scouts cleaned and collected the offal, meat, and hide and made journey back to Glastonbury

Fin has been spending more time with Crazy Agnes. He finds that a monk seems to be keeping watch, and taking notes about the feared woman.

Adrian Dubois’ condition has worsened. His fever and infected wound are not responding to treatment. It is learned that the infection came from getting hit with a native sword that had feces on it.

Prester peter discovers that Skag- the captured aboriginal, is speaking a very broken form of Arabic.

Fin has been witnessing nothing short of delusional witchcraft or divine power represented by a shimmery glow around certain people of the village. He keeps this information to himself…for now.

Two political views have begun to arise in Glasonbury. The opposing views of Charles de Maubrey and his wishes to pursue and destroy the enemies of God, and all evil; and that of Robert Deveroux, who’s plan is the steadfast and firm rooting of which they have already begun to establish. Lord Robert desires to stay put and continue what they have begun. Having faith that The Almighty will provide for them if they are devout enough and forward thinking enough, making preparation of food, sundries, and shelter for the winter.
Fin has become very concerned with the health of Dubois. He enquires with Agnes for advice, who knows for certain that it is time for action!

McCloud decides to ask the individual with the strongest glow (actually a halo!!), Brother Robert to pray over Dubois, but Brother Robert is already at the Abbey.

Brother Robert locks himself inside while Fin remains outside the chambers and prays throughout the evening on bent knee. A youthful bearded man appears before the young Fin. Walking toward him with palms up and displayed for him to see the signs of Stigmata. Fin takes this to be a herald of the Divine Maker. He who seems to be Yeshua asks Fin if he can pass. Fin bows low and allows the Holy Ghost to enter into Dubois chamber. The igniis fatuus passes through the door as if it wasn’t even there.

Fin awakes in the morning to a healthy Dubois opening the door. Brother Robert is asleep in the room. Adrian is famished and wishes to eat. They head to the kitchens/mess hall. All present are taken aback and begin to rave that Dubois has made a miraculous recovery.
Meanwhile Brother Robert is floating in midair, out the window in some dreamlike state. He is hauled down and woken by a slap from….

The abbot “asks” fin to NOT tell Prester Peter about this event…though word has spread through the village like fire through a dry grassy field on a blustery day.

Brother Robert also prayed for rain…and a mighty rain fell on the second night.

A decision by the council is made regarding staying in Glastonbury. A contingent is called to assemble.

Membership of the contingent consist of the young prospector Flavien, a cartographer, several scouts including Luc-Philipe, the aspiring Scot priest Fin McCloud, several crossbowman and a small Knight escort led by Andre Leblanc and Stefan Alvaraz. It was agreed to the best of their scholarly knowledge, to head North.

After travelling much of the day they came across a cold assumedly spring-fed river. They followed its banks further north into the beginnings of a valley. A forest of new growth was an inspiration as it lead to older and older trees.

They were now approximately 15 miles from Glastonbury and planning to set up camp somewhere soon.

The group came across the ruins of what appeared to be a castle on a hill across the river.
It was here in this valley they found the leftover campsite of some nomadic hunter gatherers…fire pits etc.

The consensus was to explore the ruins and find out if it might make a suitable and defensible place for encampment.

Scouting ahead, Luc learns that this is no castle but a well-built stone watch tower.

On the way up the valley hill a mummified body hung in their path from a wooden post. A warning perhaps? Who’s to know? By the grace of God…it’s been there for years mummified and bound in leather.

Fin seems to take a deeper notice, something others do not upon the body, and records on parchment notes in strange symbols.

The tower though once great, now lays in ruin noticeably destroyed by multiple sieges of stone battery and fire. It is estimated to be Perhaps 80-100 years old.

The masonry and metal hinging and fasteners are of the finest quality and craftsmanship Flavien has encountered and finer yet he guesses than anything he’s has learned about. Not even the slightest corrosion or rust touches any of the metal.

A few of the party are tasked to gather some of the metal and stone for further research in Glastonbury.

Camp is set up and the soldiers draw lots for watches.

Fin wakes and …and notices a Burning Man heading uphill toward the tower ruins. “To arms!” Battle ensues.

Andre laughing fights…Hit hard and goes down

Luc disappears into the wood folding into her protective darkness.

Swords seem to have no effect upon this hellish aberration. Though Luc’s well placed arrows cause it damage and seem to enrage it.

Stefan gathers the horses and tries to lead them over rubble down the hill to escape from the flaming terror.

Fin falls into the gorge of rocks and rubble …and disappears underground…

Falls into storage underground…

Luc tracks him down much later…

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Gideon's Letters Home
#1

To my Stepfather and my Lady Mother, Duke and Duchess of Lancaster, and to my beloved sisters, the ladies Rebecca and Anya, I send you my love and warmest regards.

I fear that this letter may never reach you, given what has befallen the crusaders who’d gathered at the abbey, awaiting ships that were to have carried this noble assembly to the Holy Lands. Weeks ago there was a fierce storm that in God’s most infinite wisdom has blown us from England and left us lost in a strange and savage land.

Monsters roam these lands and we’ve had to battle one of the infernal creatures after it slew several children who’d been playing outside the abbey’s walls. We call it a dragon, but it doesn’t seems as fierce as the beast that St George had to face, not being flighted or processing of the ability to breath fire, praise be to God. It does emit a most foul gas, and those caught in the effects are often hard pressed to defend themselves.

Stefan and I faced the beast, but worry not my dearest mother and sisters, we were unharmed, due in no small part to the skill that you passed on to us stepfather. We have had to maintain watch over the horses and the livestock, since the vile beast had acquired a taste for horseflesh. Cisco was injured during our first encounter with the dragon, but we have since seen the beast brought low. We still remain vigilant should another of these dragons try for our steeds.

The last few weeks have been difficult as we are short on manpower. I’ve been helping the local farmers with planting the crops, and I have gained new respect for the work that they do on a daily basis. It’s harder than it looked from within the walls of Castle Lancaster, but Andros, Ilyan and Elena have been patient with me. It’s funny how much Elena reminds me of you Anya, though with her red gold hair and green eyes, she looks nothing like you, and is in fact rather shy, though she has warmed up to me a little. But there’s a sweetness to her that reminds me of you. When she sings, I feel like anything is possible, and it gives me hope that we will be reunited in this life rather than in the next.

I can write no more tonight, but God keep you all safe.
Your most loving son,
Gideon DeVanderies

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October 11, 2015
In the Beginning, Part 1: The Gathering Storm

In the Spring of 1192, Richard the Lionhearted made a call for all of those who were worthy to fight against the infidels in the Holy Land.

The Baron of Aquitaine, Robert DeVeraux, was named as the head of people gathering in Glastonbury – despite his noble status, his personal ties to Richard himself placed him in charge of this contingent. The sleepy village quickly grew to immense size as people from all over gather to board on ships in the upcoming week and sail off for the Crusader States.

Once the various campgrounds grew to immense size, a large party was held in celebration for the beginning of their journey. Robert thanks the abbey, as well as the mayor of Glastonbury. Then he lays down the few rules for the night – no fighting and behave chivalrously. In the meantime, the King had sent a gift of wine and spirits for all participants to enjoy, though the group will only receive the first half of the gift tonight, and the second half at a later time. On that note, he signaled the festivities to begin.

Everybody, even the children, began to enjoy the fine food and wine available. Even the servants managed to partake here and there as they served, including a young child named Sebastian – who ended up having a little too much and abandoned his job serving the party to instead indulge with some wine in a barn.

A beansprout of a young man, Finn, enjoyed very little drink, instead focusing on talking about the Lord to anybody and everybody that he could. Finding that the people there were more interested in Bacchus than Jesus at the moment, Finn instead went back to the abbey to focus on prayer.

Peter, rumored to be a representative of the Kingdom of Prester John, quickly became a favorite as soon as he arrived, finding himself in the center of the party with Robert himself. He regales everyone with tales, and receives great gifts in return. The papal representative eventually takes Peter aside and suggests that the two of them find some women – after Peter’s initial refusal, the representative clarified that they are to be with the women that he had personally brought, in which Peter accepted.

The knight’s table becomes extremely rowdy after partaking in a lot of drink, with a knight named Stefan in the middle of it. He suggests to another couple of knights, Adrien and Gideon, that they should check out the papal wagon to see what kind of items a man of important status would bring. As the group approaches the wagon, they see the papal representative and Peter go into the wagon, then various suggestive noises follow after that. Stefan, ever the troublemaker, suggests that they go up there and try to get admission so they too can enjoy some time with the ladies inside – when he does, the guards refuse him, but were nice enough to give the young knights a wineskin. They decide to head back to the knight’s campsite and continue the party there.

While the cooks did spend some amount of their night preparing the meals, they were surprised that they did not actually have to serve themselves, and in fact, had people serve them as well. One cook, Luc-Phillipe, was enjoying his meal quite well when he noticed a bunch of clouds emerging in the distance. Sensing that there was going to be a huge storm coming, he let the nobles know before retiring to a barn himself.

A huge storm sets itself on the town, bent on destroying anything not tied down to the ground. The knights have a hard time with their encampment outside, and they eventually gather their horses and head for more stable shelter for them.

Finn is also having a hard time with his own encampment in the Abbey gravesite. As he heads for shelter, he sees several lightning strikes and a strange assortment of black runes that are seemingly taking energy from them. As the lighting becomes worse, Finn instead rushes for a barn – while the people inside initially state that there is no room, Luc generally offers a spot next to him for rest that night. The storm continued for the rest of the night, and ended with one final thunderous clap before settling down.

Adrien wakes up the next morning and notices that there are way less trees than there were the night before, with the river being double the width than it was. Adrien slaps Gideon across the face to wake him up, then kicks Stefan, saying that all of this was his fault. Gideon looks at the area and notices the same thing,with the addition that the roads too, eventually lead to nowhere since the path disappears a quarter mile out.

Gideon rushes to the abbey to tell people about what had happened the night before. While the servant initially denied Gideon a meeting with the abbot, seeing how much the land has changed prompted the servant to go and wake the Abbot himself. The Abbot was shocked by the news, and began to wonder if maybe God has greater plans for them.

Finn and Peter both wake up around the same time with a major headache. The abbot calls both of them for a meeting to discuss possible courses of action. Finn relays what he had seen the night before, and the abbot becomes even more worried, in case there was some interference from the devil. Peter suggests that they should learn where they are – maybe send some scouts, and have a ship worker examine the sky. A shipman comes in to the abbey a short while later, saying that not only the ships are missing, but so is the rest of Plymouth.

It didn’t take long after that meeting for a rumor to spread, saying that the Devil has stalled the campaign.

Baron Robert comes out of the barn that he was staying in, and began to bark orders. He set up a bunch of scouting parties to figure out where they are, in which they quickly learn that it is as if the town was lifted and moved somewhere else. Anything outside of a quarter mile radius of the town had vanished, including many of the party members of the second crusade. There are no signs of other civilization around, except they did notice strange cattle-like beasts three miles out.

Curious about the beasts, Sebastian leads some other curious kids into the fields to check them out. Instead, they manage to find themselves face to face with a very large, scaled creature. All of the other children ran away screaming in one direction, while Sebastian quietly sneaked off in the other direction. And as he shuffled away, he heard their screams die off one by one. Eventually he made his way back to the village and regaled them all with tales of a “50 foot dragon” out in the tall grasses.

Several scouting parties are sent out to investigate the creature, and slay it for the village’s safety. It didn’t take them long to find the body of one of the children, which was completely ravaged by the creature. The body was sent back to the village for burial, while the others in the party are questioning how “big” this creature actually is – while large, it is not 50 feet, as original claims had said.

On his search, Luc finds a ford and a huge clearing where the cattle-like animals were. He looks at the dung and fur, realizing that this is an animal that he has never encountered before. He then makes his way back to the knights, and after seeing that they weren’t paying attention, he hits one of them in the head with a rock. He lets them know about the cattle heard, though the knights had their heart set on finding the lizard instead.

They lead Luc back to the site of the child’s body for him to investigate. He is impressed by the footprints that he found, as well as the blood trail that came from one of the dead children, at least he assumes. He leads them further into the grass, and as he brushes the grass aside, he comes face to face with the large creature. It hisses at him and starts moving in his direction, until he sees that there are a horde of people behind him and it turns the other way.

As Luc flees towards the knights, Adrien darts towards the creature, with Gideon and Sebastian following behind. The creature suddenly disappears, and the other two begin to look around to see where it went. The creature suddenly jumped out of the grass and bit a huge chunk out of Gideon’s horse. While Gideon manages to slide off just fine, Sebastian ends up flying off and landing face first on the ground. Adrien swings at the large lizard and it misses, while Gideon manages to damage its leg extremely badly before it fled. The other knights begin to chase after it as well, though they quickly lose sight of the large lizard, and due to the sheer number of horses on the ground everywhere, it covered the creature’s blood trail so well that Luc could not keep track of it either.

Meanwhile, Peter rose to great importance in the village due to his sheer charisma alone. People began to wonder if he had ever been in the situation before, in which he lets everyone know that while he has not personally been in it, the Kingdom of Prester John is both wide and wild. The knights come back to the town to make a report on the creature, in which it was decided that there will be watches both day and night, both on the walls and in the barns.

Peter also began to become worried about the farming situation in the area – while it was spring, which was good, they lost a lot of farmers and farm cattle, which makes planting difficult. He tells Finn to begin preaching about the glories of hard work and labor to the townsfolk, including the nobles and knights. While some are unhappy about the situation, the abbot himself is extremely happy that he has quite the adviser.

A couple weeks later, the creature attempts to go into one of the barns, sickening everybody inside with a weird gas from its breath. Adrien manages to do some damage to it, but gets bit and thrown unconscious by the creature. The crossbowman that was in the barn does get a couple hits into it as well before the creature deems it too dangerous for its survival and runs away. The creature was found a week later during a scouting patrol, completely dead with its head chopped cleanly off. The scouts examined the area and determined that it was killed by people – there were boot tracks in the area, as well as a type of large dog. The good meat and skin from the creature was picked completely clean, which came to a disappointment for many in the group.

A few weeks after that incident, farmers were killed and oxen were stolen by some men. Reserves were able to spot them in the distance. Adrien chases after them, along with Gideon and two other men. Arrows flew from the men, and one of them hit a horse that Sebastian was on, who was helping out a knight at the time. Sebastian went flying in the air and fell into the rocky soil below. Although he took some damage from the fall, he went running for the village to warn everyone about what was happening in the fields.

Adrien and Gideon fight a rough and valiant battle – while one of their comrades did fall, and Adrien did find himself knocked unconscious again, they ended up in better shape then their assailants, who all ended up dead, save one who was also unconscious. Gideon tends to Adrien and applies first aid to him, waking him up. They finally have time to actually look at their assailants, who appear to be chunky guys with large jaws, covered in leather armor. While their bows are nice, they have cheap scimitars, as well as stone daggers that they assumed was for slicing the throat of their enemies. Adrien takes one of them as a prize, and then turn to the unconscious one.

They decide it is probably better to keep the unconscious one alive for some questioning. Tying him up, they carried him and his equipment back to the town.

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